April 21, 2024

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

On this fourth Sunday of Easter, we observe Good Shepherd Sunday, a day also designated as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In our Mass readings, we are immersed in the imagery of God’s loving care for us, portrayed through the steadfast vigilance of a shepherd watching over his flock.

The enduring metaphor of the Good Shepherd continues to resonate profoundly within our hearts, evoking our innate longing for guidance and protection. Psalm 23, “The Lord is My Shepherd,” remains a cherished prayer of our faith, embodying the assurance of divine provision and guidance. But why does this ancient imagery still speak to us in our modern, post-agricultural world? The answer is quite simple: we all yearn for a shepherd. In times of turmoil and uncertainty, we seek someone to lead, protect, and guide us—much like sheep instinctively rely on their shepherd for direction and safety.

Like sheep, we humans are inherently social beings, finding comfort and security in community. Whether it’s in sports, politics, work, or school, we naturally gravitate towards like-minded individuals, drawn together by shared interests and beliefs. Yet, within the tapestry of our faith communities, we recognize a unique unity amidst diversity. Unity and love between shepherds and their flocks are essential for the flourishing of the body of Christ, bringing glory to the Lord and offering hope to the world.

When Jesus gathered his disciples, he demonstrated the importance of community in our journey of faith. Much like the sheep that recognize their shepherd’s voice amidst chaos, we are called to heed the voice of Christ amidst the clamor of competing voices in our modern world. He is the shepherd we need, offering solace and direction amidst life’s complexities and challenges.

The ministry of priests in the Church serves as a tangible embodiment of Christ’s shepherding care for his flock. Just as Jesus appointed disciples to continue his work on earth, so too does he call forth shepherds in every generation to tend to his sheep. The title of “pastor,” bestowed upon parish priests, underscores their role as spiritual shepherds, entrusted with the sacred task of leading, feeding, and nurturing their flock.

Let us, therefore, lift up our priests in prayer, especially our pastors who bear the weight of shepherding their flocks. Let us also remember the seminarians, young men who are discerning the call to priesthood, and offer them our support and encouragement on their journey of faith. In nurturing future shepherds, we ensure the continuation of Christ’s ministry on earth, ensuring that his flock is always tended to with love and care.

I am sincerely grateful for the support and esteem that you have extended to my brother priests and me in our parish community. Your prayers and encouragement fortify us in our commitment to faithfully serve God’s people. Please continue to remain close to us in prayer as we navigate the challenges of our calling with humility and devotion. Know that we are here to care for you, especially for those among our flock who may feel particularly in need.

Commending you all to the loving care of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, I am,

Faithfully yours,

Msgr. Cuong M. Pham